Escape the Dark Castle – A game to introduce people to your hobby

It’s like a gateway drug.

You’ll want to play it with your friends, even your friends not into gaming. Then they’ll want to play it more, and before you know it, it’ll all be your fault they can’t stand the sunlight and hiss at passing cats.

2017…

Themeborne, an independent group of game developers based in Nottingham, UK, kicked off their new endeavour with the amazing Escape the Dark Castle – frankly, one the coolest games you can learn to play, and teach your newbie mates.

An elegant cooperative card game you’ll want to play / smash in the face again and again.

I’ll get to telling you why shortly, but first, let’s meet the gang.

Thomas Pike, games writer and critic; Alex Crispin, designer, illustrator and mask wearer also a musician and composer (guess that’s where the cassette tape came from); and James Shelton, co-designer with experience in film making (he did the promotional trailer).

Escape the Dark Castle (EDC) was successfully funded on Kickstarter at the end of June 2017, gaining a cool 2119 backers and smashing their £11K target with nearly £90K pledged.

What made it so good?

The game. Duh.

EDC puts you in the shoes of one of the several medieval citizens imprisoned in the Dark Castle, the cook, the smith and so on. Each character has particular strengths in one of three attributes; Might, Cunning and Wisdom.

Each character has a single special dice which they roll when the time comes and the combined rolls of all the characters determines their success or failure of certain goals in their epic escape.

You find loot, special items, magical googaws and the iconic GOLDEN AXE (which can backfire a little) which was available to Kickstarter backers and will be made available again in the upgrade box.

etDC Kit

The theme of the game is very much 1980’s fantasy – the artwork is black ink on white, reminiscent of the glorious Hero Quest days when artists couldn’t afford paints and printing technologies were not as they are now (it also explains the cassette tape bonus on the Kickstarter project, retro). The art, the concept tape and the amusing 80’s style trailer all add to that nostalgic feel – rekindling some long-forgotten childhood memories (which I embrace).

Trapdoor
Ahh, memories…

Here’s some tasty boasting from the Kickstarter which I can confirm, having the played the game extensively… the perfect selling points are:

  • Its super quick to setup, learn and play (you can go at your own pace though!)
  • It doesn’t exclude totally new players to the game, the genre or the hobby. The rules are that efficient.
  • It’s a totally social game – no one gets left out, most age groups can play it and enjoy it fully, and you can drink tea, eat biscuits or get smashed on looted grog.
  • It’s random each game, so you’ll never play the exact same game twice.
  • It’s actually hard. I think we win on average 25% of the time. There will always be a crux moment where you realise that the game just got much harder to do!

EDC does all of these things, and I can’t wait to play it by candle light on a stormy night in the middle of winter and feel that sweet cosiness.

And what is even better, there’s already an expansion out, Cult of the Death Knight!

Escape the Dark Castle is priced at around £30, with the expansion a pleasant £15 available on the Theme Borne website or your local retailers.

2018 AND IT GETS BETTER!

They are currently working on their latest Kickstarter which is due to ship sometime this year.

There’re 2 more expansions – Scourge of the Undead Queen and Blight of the Plague Lord.

Watch this space!

Orktober Begins! (Get Excited Ya Git!)

The time has come for every Ork player to both hold their breath in anticipation and quake in their boots a little bit at what Games Workshop is going to do with the Orks next.

The road has not been kind to us Ork players over the years: the edition before this one (Seventh) saw us having to retreat more often than not, causing your WAAAGH! to feel as anaemic white bread; coupled with the crap rules for vehicles, old kits, hardly any looted vehicles any more and stalled forgeworld releases, we haven’t been treated very well at all!

This month promises to at least let us know what we have in store for the future. Games Workshop have really turned it around in recent years: their new community site has allowed fans and newbies alike to keep in touch with the Warhammer world (and it’s associated specialist games) by giving us sneak peeks, news and hype leading up to new releases. Well, last month, to coincide with the NOVA open, GW published a post detailing the up and coming projects for this year and into the next.

https://www.warhammer-community.com/2018/08/30/breaking-previews-and-reveals-from-novagw-homepage-post-1/

And there it is; a whole section dedicated to our beloved greenskinned roustabouts, a new specialist game called Speed Freeks (owing to the focus on the Speed Freeks faction inside the Orks for the new releases). So we have some new, shiny vehicles to goggle over and add spiky bitz and more dakka to!

The game looks like GorkaMorka of old but simplified, which I don’t really mind, there are plenty of examples of complex games in the GW sphere these days. I’m sure it will be nice to have a simple and smashy good time game to whip out at the weekends.

buggy

We also had some new rules explanations and teasers for the new Ork codex (A long time in the releasing, we haven’t had a new codex since fifth edition in 2008), giving a tantalising and juicy look into what we can expect. Namely lots and lots of Dakka for our Boyz!

So this is just the beginning. New models are already teased and I fully expect a codex release in the next few weeks. I’ll be sure to bring you all the latest for our green guyz.

Keep Krumpin Ya Zoggin Gitz!

J.A.Steadman.

Speed Freeks Trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0v7QiQ9ika0

Why you should be excited for Iskloft…

banner for iskloft

Low there do I see my father…

I tend to peruse Kickstarter often these days, and I think you’d benefit from checking in from time to time too. It’s because of the amazing games that people are bringing to us…

I’m excited for Iskloft, a ‘brutal, low fantasy, Viking themed 5th Edition campaign.’

I’m reading it as D&D meets players as spongy sacks of leaky meat?

steak meat raw herbs
Mmmm… meaty… Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

Iskloft is the blood spattered, one-eyed wild-child of Lloyd Collins, teacher and theatre director from Ireland who runs JarlDM on Youtube.

Now, if you take a look at the Kickstarter, it looks pretty small…

It’s secured just over 21K euros with less than 600 backers. But here’s the beauty of it, it doesn’t cost a heinous amount of cash to get a copy (at least for now). For 35 euros I’ve secured a hardback copy complete with pdf (so we can play around the table). This is a small but mighty game, and here’s why…

The artwork; it’s just the right balance between detailed depictions and abstract colours. Dominic Mayer and Brandish Gilhelm have really brought the vibrant reality of this world setting to life; check out some of their artwork featured on the Kickstarter project page…

Iskloft seems to be boasting about its unique spell system, which draws its inspiration from historical texts based on the Norse sagas, involving complex rituals and heavy folklore. I’m in!

We also think it’s going to be a different power dynamic to the likes of other 5th edition games – wandering through dangerous places means likely encounters with dangerous beasts. This isn’t a D&D bear attack, prepare to get owned by angry mammals!

I’m keen to see what this game will be like.

It is about time that I subjected my players to some serious Norse tutelage!

Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play – 4th Edition! (It’s not quite out yet, but let’s froth, keenly)

So, if you’re like me and you sponged up all that well marketed Games Workshop (GW) content as an impressionable youth, you may be excited to learn that the Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play (WFRP) game is due for release in its 4th incarnation.

WFRP goes way back (if you’re young, that is) to 1984. I didn’t know it then, but it was to be one of the greatest roleplay games I’ve ever played. Possibly the most loved 2nd edition was carried by Green Ronin Publishing, and overseen by GW’s own Black Industries… which lasted a mere 4 years before GW decided it wasn’t making enough cash (sound familiar?)

2nd-Warhammer-Fantasy-Roleplay
2nd Edition (THE edition)

Why is it great, you ask?

WFRP puts you in the soggy shoes of the regular people struggling to get by the in the dark and desperate world of Warhammer Fantasy, a much loved setting owned by GW.

It is purposefully set in a grim and gritty reality where horrible things happen to the best of people. Chances are you’re going to go through a good number of characters.

It’s not a game of hit points (like in Dungeons & Dragons) – getting critically hit by a monster is bad; there’s a good chance of dying or at the very least, carrying a horrific wound (assuming you survive). The damage tables give the game a very real, visceral and horrid depth – you really don’t want to get in a fight!

It’s easy to follow game mechanics may rely on the games master a little more, but it needs only ten-sided dice and maths from 0-100, making the game easy to pick up. Everyone knows how many pennies are in a pound, right?

There’s a tonne of different types of characters you can play, and I hope they’ve added more – the 1st edition had hundreds of class types to choose from. It’s a good one to start learning game mechanics if you’re new to the hobby.

History Lesson: WFRP has had its downs – the grand 3rd edition was released as a monster package and, well, people didn’t like paying all the money in the world for a complete set in one go (thanks Fantasy Flight!).

rpg-book-wfrp-pg
We don’t talk about it…

In 2010 Fantasy Flight released a thorough line of books which ended in 2014. They had changed the core system of the game (mainly because you need special dice for anything FF release). Let’s not say it flopped – it just wasn’t as popular.

We’ve been starving since, living off the scraps from auctioning sites for nearly 5 years…

Until now.

In a twist of something Tzeentch, a 4th edition was awarded to Cubicle 7. GW appears to have relinquished control over some of their specialised games (I’m good with this) and these particular developers have run with the earlier and popular editions to create a mega-corpulent Nurgle edition of extreme demoness.

THEY’VE GONE BACK TO THE PERCENTILE DICE!

And Oh Boy, Cubicle 7 seems to have taken it back to its 1st and 2nd edition roots. Check out the art work for the front covers, remind you of anything??

 

I’m more excited than a naked flagellant in a field of stinging nettles!

Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play is already released in PDF format, you can get it here.

The core rule-book has all the information you need to enjoy the amazing, gritty and visceral world setting of antiheroes and ultimate evil with just some ten sided dice (y’know, like the good old days!)

The hard-copy of the books are due for release in October, you can pre-order. I’ve spotted copies from £35 – £45 so shop around!

And for those new to the game who are not sure if it’s for them? Well it’s your lucky day; you can buy the starter set to give you a feel for it too from £19 – £25.

It has a slightly later release date but the PDF is ready to go as of September (that’s now…) and comes with characters, an introduction game and 2 ten sided dice (aint that generous?)

Get stuck in and let us know what you think!

 

So You Want to Try Dungeons & Dragons? (Here’s how to do it on the Cheap!)

So You Want to Try Dungeons & Dragons?

Maybe you’ve seen it on TV – that archaic game of nerds and socially-challenged teens across the world? You’ve wondered what it’s all about and thought to yourself (secretly, so the jocks don’t hear) ‘I may like to try that one day.’

Dungeons and mother-fucking Dragons, y’all! (I’m not southern (not even American)).

But you’ve spotted the price of those books, all three of the core ones (Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, Monster Manual – there’s a lot of extras). The cheapest was once £25 but now they’re all £30-£50 apiece. Your lips just opened and your jaw dropped like it was made of stone – that’s one hell of a financial outlay to try something you may not even enjoy! And you need some specific dice that look like the Devils pocket torture-kit to play!

Well, worry not my closet-nerd; I’m here with some really simple advice and tips. You’ll be playing sooner than you thought!

First of all, come down from that citadel of solitude and ask around your friends if they know anyone who plays Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) already. Three things may happen; no one looks at you again for daring to be cool; they have no idea; they know a guy who knows a guy; they want to try too!

OK so that was four things, but I discount the first one because D&D is more popular than you think and a lot of people are in the closet about it.

If you have a social link to people who already play, ask if you can join them. You could ask to just watch but D&D is not a spectator sport and many gamers may feel a little uncomfortable with you gawping at them – it’s also not a sport. D&D is best experienced from within the game. Throw yourself in and you’ll surprise yourself!

But I’m guessing you have no idea who else plays and online games can be so hit and miss that the target hasn’t been changed since the internet grew up. No game stores in your local area? Well damnation, you live on an island, population = 1.

So, if you can find at least two other friends who may like to try it out, I’m going to give you a really simple and cheap way of checking it out!

You’re already reading this on the internet so follow this links to the Wizards of the Coast website (I know right; Wizards… of the Coast? Paha!)

http://dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/basicrules

Got dice? Well, if you can afford a set of those, you’ll need a set of polyhedral dice. There are more varieties of dice than there are species of beetles (OK – not true) but there’s dice to suit anyone’s 80’s acid induced dreams!

You can spend anything from £4 up to… well, how much money can you think of?

OK, but let’s say you want to start right now! Well, if you need to, there are random dice number generators online – they aren’t ideal but helpful when you’re desperate. I recommend you get yourself a set of dice covering 4 to 20 sided dice:

All you need now are pencils, some pads of paper and the desire to create epic, fantastical memories together! (I’m going to guess you have those already…)

If you need help understanding the game in more detail, drop me a line and I’ll work on a How-to just for you!

Ferris

A Great Journey.

Welcome to The Creator Consortium. Not just a website; this place will become a centre of creative energy over the next few weeks as the team here start to populate the site with snapshots of the work we’re so desperate to show you. Projects from our past mixed with fresh content just for the site; we’re going to be bringing you short stories, articles about what we love including all aspects of nerdery, roleplaying game adventures, boardgame writeups, reviews and much much more.

We hope to expand this endeavour into many new spaces and bring our creators together in videos, streams and podcasts. The goal is to let the creators talk to you and share what they are passionate about so you can watch them, and us, grow.

The future of this enterprise has us very excited because we’re not just doing this for ourselves; we want to foster a community so we can share our experiences into the future and create many amazing new ones.

Goodbye for now.

J.A.Steadman and J.D.Ferris,

Cofounders.